Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tourism tales

Well we’re back from our whirlwind Delhi trip that was eventful, interesting and educational. We have now officially turned from visitors of the orphanage to “pukka ambassadors” as our reason for the trip was to play host to an American girl who is visiting for a month. It’s a bit strange turning from tourist to a bit of a “local”, entrusted with getting to a place by yourself and being the “face” of the orphanage and safely escorting a visitor into the arms of a hundred screaming kids. The initial plan was to pick her up on the 16th December and do the touristy thing until the 20th when Rick would drive to Delhi and bring us, an ex farm gal and an Australian guy back to the farm.

Of course India, being India, this all changed by the time we made it to Delhi and after a few manic phone calls it was decided we and the American girl would travel back by train on the morning of the 19th. This of course cut our Delhi time in half but we were reluctant to miss this window of opportunity to see the plethora of sights in and around Delhi. In hindsight it might have been better to stick to a more relaxed program of activity, especially since the American girl had just travelled 24 hours straight but we didn’t know if or when she or us would have another chance. This is the story of how you do Delhi and Agra in 2 days:

Thursday 17th

5 am: Get to the New Delhi Train station for a 3 hour train trip to Agra. Once arriving at our destination it was decision time on how to get from sight to sight. I personally like Auto-rickshaws (Tuk-Tuk’s in Thailand) but Clifton (Deputy Director of the orphanage) had recommended a car. Naturally I ignored the advice of a 7 year resident of India and chose a rickshaw, saving $2.50 in the process. So off we went to visit the sights in this ancient city. In the interests of brevity (too late you say) I’m just going to list the places we went and show a photo of them – you can make up your own commentary about how we walked around them, how old they are and which Maharajah killed the Maharajah who killed the Mughal to get rich enough to build this big red or white thing.

  • Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb (Baby Taj)
  • Agra Fort
  • Taj Mahal

We were about out of time after all this, missing out on seeing the Fatehpur Sikri due to some idiot choosing the slower rickshaw over the faster taxi and we rushed back to the train station to find our train had been delayed by 2 hours. This, combined with the train running an hour slower to Delhi, made for some very tired travelers arriving in the seedy part of town at midnight. Luckily we were too exhausted to be scared and made our way back to the hotel with only sleep on our mind.

Friday 18th

After the previous busy day we thought it would be a good idea to have a rest day to recuperate. Of course we had no time for such frivolities and set about seeing Delhi’s main attractions before nightfall. Once again to avoid boring you about how many bricks there are in the Red Fort or which English oppressors the Indians particularly hate, I’ll just show you the photos.

  • Something or other Gate
  • Jama Masjid
  • Red Fort
  • India Gate
  • Humayun’s Tomb

Once again we missed out on seeing a few sites (pun intended) due to my insistence on rickshaw travel. There’s something about zipping around in an open-sided, glorified tricycle that makes you feel closer to the people, the streets and less attractively, the smells that you just don’t get in a car. This fixation of mine led to a first hand experience of criminal behavior that is an India institution. We were travelling to India Gate when 2 young Indian males on a motor bike matched the pace of our moving vehicle, reached past the American and grabbed the backpack on Miriam’s lap. Miriam was too quick for the would-be thieves and held on tightly, forcing the motorbike to swerve into our rickshaw before speeding off. The number plate had been whited out and they made their getaway to ply their dastardly deeds on other, slower reacting tourists. We were all a bit more alert after this and I was almost disappointed at the end of our journey to find no others had dared to try the same trick.

The next morning we were up at 3:30 to catch a train out of Delhi, to ease our journey a car was booked for us for the final leg of our journey home where we could finally relax, surrounded by a hundred kids all talking to us simultaneously.

A few facts we discovered during our trip:

  • Brad isn’t going to build Miriam a tomb the size of the Taj Mahal when she dies
  • Kid’s safety scissors cannot be found even in Delhi
  • An American breakfast which claims to contain bacon, doesn’t
  • It’s possible to eat 6 meat meals in 2.5 days and feel justified in doing so.
  • Long hot showers are possible in Delhi staying at a $11/night hotel


  1. top work guys, loved your lil tale and numerous chuckles. Proud of ya Miriam, you go girl, maybe you will be deserving of a palace like memorial.

  2. Our China trip a few years back wasn't so rushed then Miriam?